100 Creatives

100 Creatives 2013: Lydia Hance, Founder and Director of Frame Dance Productions

A Frame Dance Productions engagement is more than a dance concert; it's an immersive experience that allows the audience to appreciate movement in ways that go beyond the proscenium stage. "I try to bring people into dance by making small shifts in the norm of experiencing it," says Lydia Hance, director and founder of Frame Dance. "I'm not trying to put dance on the moon, but create slight shifts, whether that's eliminating the fourth wall or inviting non-dancers into the work or creating an app for the iPhone to enhance the performance."

There's also her short films, like Crease and At First Delight, which are quirky, joyous and moody meditations that suggest character and narrative while also portraying fun and emotive movement.

Lydia began dancing when she was seven and grew up training in a ballet academy. It wasn't until high school, though, that she fell in love with choreography. As a senior, she produced her first full-length concert complete with lights, costumes, and music; later, college brought an intense study of Graham technique at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "I've also been really inspired by postmodern dance of the Bay Area, so my movement is a strange fusion of the two. Then there's the use of ballet as a first language."

Frame Dance Productions was created after her move to Houston in 2007. "I knew I wanted to create choreography and create work. I needed a context for that. I wasn't interested in picking up dancers here and there for different projects. I was interested in developing work with dancers over time. I knew I wanted something that had a structure."

There was also an interest in using technology as a means of connection to the audience, as well as a priority to collaborate with artists from different mediums. The desire to reframe dance through technology was also prompted by her relationship with her husband, an accomplished programmer. "Growing in my relationship with him, and having a desire to work together, opened up the possibilities of exploration. And the interaction is what I'm most interested in. Technology is a means for finding interaction with audiences." The result is a company that is not only unique in its focus, but is as heartfelt as it is progressive.

What she does: She makes dance, yes, but that line of work also includes other job titles. "I'm a filmmaker and educator and choreographer. I'm also a collaborator."

Why she likes it: For Lydia, dance is about gaining a deeper insight into the human experience and better understanding the connective tissues that form relationships. "I'm fascinated by people's stories and people's vulnerabilities. I think by tapping into other people's experiences, I'm able to examine myself a little more closely. I'd be really unhappy if I didn't."

What inspires her: "I'm inspired by other artists who are deeply connected to their craft." And of course she finds inspiration in her own work, especially when she's working against the grain. "I'm very interested in what culture labels flaws because I find those the most beautiful and the most real." In her film work, it is clear that Lydia is not concerned with the idealized images of Hollywood or the mass media. "I like to re-contextualize flaws and other things people hide, and make them beautiful and fascinating, aspects an audience is exposed to and wants to see."

If not this, then what: "If I had the training, I'd want to be a painter. I'm so drawn in by color and form and texture. I'm jealous of visual artists who create something and then have it in their hands, a tangible thing. Dance is fleeting, which makes it glorious. But it's also disappointing when it's over." As a girl, Lydia recalls how she kept a notebook of staff paper in which she would write short melodies. "So maybe I could write jingles."

If not here, then where: While she has fallen in love with Houston, there are two places that might work for her dance and film projects. One is her hometown of San Francisco and the other is Lexington, Virginia. "I've done a residency there, and I've been a visiting artist in Rockbridge Country. The history of Lexington and the beauty of Lexington I feel connected to and very inspired by."

What's next: She's about to unveil Quiver, a dance for camera work on April 9 at the Alliance Gallery. The premier will be accompanied by a reception and silent auction for a full-fledged soiree. Lydia and the Framers, as her dancers are affectionately known throughout Houston, are also busy preparing for their next evening-length show on June 28 and 29. "Ecouter will include three pieces. Two of them will be live and one will be on film." In the spirit of the company's penchant for collaboration, each of the three dances will be accompanied by music from three different Houston composers. An evening showcasing both Houston dance and music talent? Our calendars are marked.

Frame Dance Productions presents Quiver on April 9 at 6 p.m. at the Alliance Gallery, 3201 Allen Parkway. For more information, visit www.framedance.org.

More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer Danielle Burns, art curator Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana María Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer

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Adam Castaneda
Contact: Adam Castaneda